One of the more interesting seasons in Green Bay Packers history ended with a loss to the San Francisco 49ers ... again. Aaron Rodgers’ broken collarbone exposed a team that had become too reliant on winning shootouts. In the end, when the defense needed to make a stop and give Rodgers a chance to win the game, it failed. Shoring up that defense again will be a focus of the offseason.
John Kuhn scored on a 1-yard run to give the Packers a 17-13 lead near the start of the fourth quarter, but he made two other plays that were just as important. Both were big third-down receptions that kept alive eventual scoring drives. The first, an 8-yard reception, came on third-and-4 and led to the Packers’ first touchdown. The second, also an 8-yarder, was on third-and-5 on Green Bay’s final scoring drive that tied the score, 20-20.
In the season opener, the Packers couldn’t stop wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who torched them with 13 receptions for 208 yards. On Sunday, it was Michael Crabtree — who didn’t play in the opener — who did the biggest damage. With Sam Shields on the sideline with a knee injury, the Green Bay secondary was at a loss covering Crabtree, who caught eight passes for 125 yards. Twice on third down and once on fourth down, Crabtree converted, including on third-and-10 for a 17-yard catch on the 49ers’ game-winning drive.
With about 6 minutes to go in the game and trailing 20-17, Rodgers did his best Houdini imitation by somehow escaping a sack and hitting Randall Cobb on a 25-yard pass to the San Francisco 9-yard line. A freezing, but suddenly energized Lambeau Field crowd sensed a shift in momentum. But the Packers failed to punch it into the end zone after three plays netted 3 yards. They had to settle for a field goal and a tie instead of a lead. Five minutes later, the season was over.
By the numbers
5: Game-time temperature at Lambeau Field, the seventh-coldest game at Lambeau and the fourth-coldest postseason game at the stadium.
279: Total rushing yards by Colin Kaepernick against the Packers in two playoff games.
77: Number of points scored in the playoffs by kicker Mason Crosby, setting a franchise record
5: Consecutive postseasons in which Kuhn has scored a touchdown, most among active players and tied with Dorsey Levens for the franchise record.
Did you notice?
■ When Andy Mulumba went to the sideline with a knee injury after the Packers already had lost Mike Neal, Datone Jones got his first snaps as an outside linebacker.
■ When Kuhn scored on a 1-yard plunge, he slipped trying to made a Lambeau Leap, bumping into the wall instead of scaling it.
■ The Packers went three-and-out on their first three possessions.
■ The 49ers remain the only team in the league to not allow a 100-yard individual rusher this season. Eddie Lacy came close with 81 yards.
■ Boldin led the NFL in the regular season with 33 catches for 529 yards on third down but was held without a third-down reception Sunday.